Monday, June 19, 2017

Slowing down

Saturday was about taking everything slow, the advice imparted in the Larimer DVD was all about starting with body position, strong anchor set and letting it flow from there. But way before the fishing started we were already taking it easy, as some of the thickest fog I'd ever seen blanketed the Waikato. We were away at 4.20 am with Layla riding shotgun and we headed south. Over the Bombays we hit the fog and it was dramatic. With fog lights on and headlights on low beam visibility was low and we simply had to drive slowly. I rang Jase when I was about an hour out and he was 10 minutes behind me. We arranged a rendezvous point and by the time Jase pulled in, Layla had been watered and toileted. The final leg was better as the road was clear and there was little fog. It was with some trepidation that I strung up the #4 Sage 11'6" with the 325 g skagit head, this time paired with 10' of T-8. Jase had swung up some crackers on a small green AI the previous week so I tied one on. Layla sniffed the air, and set about finding some pheasant scent. We were breathing steam like dragons. I had a number of layers on - the air was crackling cold and ice was on the ground. It would be a stunner of a day. By the time we reached our entry point the sun was trying to poke through the low lying mist and we couldn't have timed our start better. Layla and I headed up to a big pool with a beautiful wide tailout. Up at the head of the rapids was a bucket on our side of the river so that was where I started. I flicked the tip and half the head out and guided the fly from heavy water and into the bucket. The take was subtle, just a weight coming on rather than a smash and I lifted into a fish that ripped the head out through the rings. I got some control and fought a neat rainbow through the heavy water and beached her for a couple of quick shots.

Face full of Senyo's AI

Layla found some bird scent and followed it into the scrub. She's still a bit too impatient to sit and wait while I fish out a pool - one thing about swinging is that its a very thorough exercise to comb a pool.

Layla giving me the "I'm bored" salute
Moving down to the base of the rapid I began to consciously analyse the cast. Set feet. Lift slowly and position anchor, sweep from low to high applying energy smoothly. With no wind to bother me I was able to practice off both shoulders and got some pretty pleasing casts in. The next fish took well down the tailout and ripped line so I knew it was a goodie. It made run after run before I got it ashore for a quick photo shoot. The final fish of the tail out hit the fly as I stripped line to make a new cast and was a small energetic little guy. As we wandered downstream to meet Jase the sun was out and air chilled further with the catabatic effect pushing cooler air down. It was a simply stunning day and my heart sang. We met up and agreed that Jase would cross to fish the next pool while I tackled it from my side. The pool had enough width to accommodate us both without much bother. I tied on a heavy eyed fly and twice fouled the bottom, while the current was heavy the pool shallowed out my side. The second time I pulled hard but my 12 lb leader with a guides Bimini didn't break... but my shooting line to head knot did! Damn! I waded downstream and soon spotted the teal blue head, waded out and got hold of it. After a rigging a new loop and rearranging the head I tied on a lighter fly. Next cast was rewarded with a tug and a fish took off. I landed her and soon hooked another at the very end of the swing - this was one of those that the pressure on the line told the story of rather than any thumping or head shaking. I soon banked her.

Fishing 2 pools had occupied a whole morning. We wandered further downstream to a pool where Jase had had good success before and he set to fishing it while I fed Layla and ate my own lunch. Jase soon laid into a fish that threw the hook.

There, then gone

The next stretch is beautiful swinging water but on my side I didn't elicit a take, while Jase missed 2 fish. We got down to an area shadowed by the high hills and it was cold... the water dark in the shade. Jase did well and landed a couple before I moved down to fish a promising run studded with boulders.

I hadn't touched a fish for a couple of hours by this time. Jase leapfrogged down stream and I got about my work. Layla found a spot in the sun to lie down on. Her day of quail and pheasant scenting, river crossing, and making sure no wayward cattle bothered us had been pretty full-on. I was blowing my anchor again so had to focus. Feet, body, lift, set, cast. Slowly slowly. The fish when it hit simply thud-thudded mid swing and sat out in the current. I was picking the fight as very brown-like so was surprised to see a rainbow jack. Soon after another jogging hit, but the hook missed its mark.

The dog and I crossed downstream with little free board on my part. We met with Jase  who'd swung a great looking pool to no effect. Time was getting on - by now it was 3 pm and we decided to call it at 4, with darkness dropping at 5.30 we really wanted to be out of the gorge with time to spare. We moved further downstream to check out a few new spots and then about turned. The march out was the most frantic thing we'd done all day.  We moved a large covey of quail and mentally bagged a few each.

A friendly local passed us by on a motorcycle with a wave and soon we were back at the cars.

Beautiful winter days are hard to beat, and drinking them slowly is the best way of enjoying them.

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